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  La Colombe d'Or in St-Paul de Vence: World’s Most Romantic Hotel?
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The Flashpackers favourite celebrity haunt in the South of France.

Here’s a little piece of France that has remained golden since 1931. Like the metal it never tarnishes and continues to increase in value.


Best Chic Luxury Hotel in the South of France

La Colombe d’Or, the historic Roux family's legendary hotel and restaurant in Saint-Paul de Vence in the South of France is renowned all over the world for its sublimely romantic restaurant with fine home-grown Provençale cooking and a superb private collection of 20th century art.

Since the 1920s, the late Paul Roux had played host to some of the greatest modern artists: from Miró to Matisse, Calder to Chagal, Buffet, Braque and Bonnard, Léger, Dufy, Utrillo and the papa of them all Pablo Picasso. All have stayed there paying their bills with paintings, sculptures and drawings, leaving a priceless legacy – clever Monsieur Roux.

Like a magnet the Art Hotel attracted the greatest film directors, actors, singers and writers of the day: Renoir, Prevert, Chaplin, Truffaut, Signoret, Piaf, Montand and Deitrich. It became one the most famous celebrity salon in the South of France.

Today, nothing has changed. The likes of Michael Caine, Bono, Roger Moore or Richard Attenborough can be sighted lunching at a long table on the terrace.

Rustic and Romantic Accommodation

The 14 unique rooms and 11 suites are full of mystery, decorated with aesthetically pleasing textures, colours, grand tapestries, fine original paintings on the wall, many done by members of the Roux family themselves, antique country furniture and fresh cut flowers in pretty glass vases. A nod to the modern is the well-equipped tiled bathrooms and in some suites, Jacuzzis.

The third generation of the Roux family, François and his wife Danielle, hold the fort of this unique and secretive establishment with a passionate pride and guard its privacy with an unyielding vigilance allowing no casual passer-by to enter the large wooden doors. François’ sister, the talented artist Pitou Roux, is the mistress of the exquisite floral decorations that adorn both the exterior and interior of the hotel.

Life at La Colombe d'Or

In the morning, breakfast beneath the huge ceramic Léger on the terrace or under the fig tree. Welcome the new day with café au lait, freshly squeezed orange juice, wild strawberries, home-baked croissants or if you’re really hungry, eggs and bacon.

Later take a dip in the cool mosaic pool where the colourful Calder mobile pliantly moves as a passing guest gives a playful swing to one of its flags. Feeling energetic? Swim twenty lengths and then a well-earned rest on the comfortable mattress.

At lunch, La Colombe d'Or restaurant terrace buzzes with anticipation as those with reservations wait to be led by the affable maître d' Phillipe to their table. The famous menu composed by the late Paul Roux remain stoically unchanged.

How many times have the trays of hors-d’oeuvres been served in sleek white ceramic dishes: sardines, saffron rice, cous cous, red cabbage anchovies, aubergines, crudités and saucisson and other regional delights, keeping the faithful diners grateful that culinary history repeats itself throughout the decades.

After lunch, a few paces away, a game of chess at Café de la Place and then back to the pool for a cool swim or a nap in the sun.

Gosh, it's seven o'clock – cocktail hour. What to wear? It's fun to dress up and make an entrance in the bar for an aperitif; a palette of vibrant colour where the glamorous guests mingle with locals and street artists.

La Colombe d’Or Restaurant Menu

If a man takes you to dine at La Colombe d'Or you can be sure that his intentions are not platonic. The atmosphere of the restaurant is at its most intimate in the evening.The wonderful Léger ceramic mural is the focus point and the ingenious olive oil filters which look like woven baskets fixed on the ramparts of the terrace reflect the light so flatteringly on a woman’s face, acting as a kind of benign botox.

To start, a plate of figs and Parma ham or a bouquet of luscious prawns served in a glass goblet with a delicate mayo dip.

For the main course grilled Daurade or succulent roast chicken and delicate chipolatas with gratin dauphinois potatoes and crisp buttery haricot vert or maybe the tender carré d’agneau for two, all prepared to perfection.

Although the wine list is extensive the restaurant is proud to serve their own label from the Provence region; red, white and rosé.

For dessert, those who are not on a regime might like to try their renowned Soufflé flambé au Grand-Marnier, arriving like a towering inferno at the table. Or perhaps the fragrant fraises du bois, chocolate mousse cake or refreshing sorbet, followed by a bracing expresso, wafer-thin chocolate batons and La Colombe d’Or’s famous digestif. If you still have the stamina, why not play a game of boule in the floodlit square?

A special menu is prepared each day which differs from the à la carte, but that too is rotated with a surety that no dish will become extinct by the chef, Herve Roy who has been in residence for fifteen years.

Have things changed?

Not really. It’s still the same crew, nobody can bear to leave. The head waiter, Philippe, together with the graceful well-trained staff continue the tradition of excellent service. In the little grilled reception, soigné Jackie, Marie Ellen or Natalie choreograph the hotel bookings and restaurant reservations and look after their clients needs, while the familiar friendly porters greet the guests and park their cars.

Rooms are booked from year to year in the high season and so making a first entry into this nonchalantly chic hotel is not easy.

For those who desire a romantic break it’s advisable not to book during the high season: July to late August – or bring an iPod to drown out the sound of the delightful but noisy offspring, innocently splashing the guests trying to sunbathe around the pool." They are the patrons of tomorrow and we welcome them," says François wisely.

La Colombe d'Or Hotel Photo Gallery

Room prices vary from €250 - 430 (depending on the season), without half-board.

La Colombe d'Or is located at 1 Place General de Gaulle, St Paul de Vence France. Tel: +33 4 9332 8002

We fly with British Airways who offer a very good flight service from Heathrow with all the frills, at no extra cost.


© Philip and Nina Saville, The 2012-15